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Canada-made fentanyl being sold overseas, RCMP says

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'Blown away': CRA tells Ontario man he's on the hook for over $38K in CERB payments – CTV News Toronto

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An Ontario man says he is “blown away” that he has to pay back the $38,600 he received in Canada Emergency Response Benefits, years after the Canada Revenue Agency approved him for it.

“I don’t understand why they are clawing it back, I really don’t,” said Terrance Bailey of Etobicoke.

Bailey said he worked as an auto consultant when the pandemic happened, which virtually shut down car dealerships nationwide. That’s when he decided to apply for CERB.

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“I thought, ‘I’m going to apply for it.’ Why not? I’ve paid my taxes over the years and I thought if it’s available to me, I will take it,” said Bailey.

Bailey was approved for CERB and received monthly payments from April 2020 to October 2021.

“When I applied for it and received the CERB, I was under the assumption everything was fine, and I was accepted in good faith,” said Bailey.

But Bailey was shocked to get a notice from the CRA last April that said a review found he did not qualify for the benefits and that he must repay $38,600 to them. In the letter, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) said that Bailey did not earn the minimum amount of income in 2019 or in the 12 months before his application date.

“I was just absolutely blown away, and I had no idea it was coming,” said Bailey.

When the COVID-19 pandemic happened, the federal government created CERB to help eligible Canadians. However, an auditor’s report found that $4.6 billion was paid to people who didn’t deserve it, and the CRA wants the money back.

A spokesperson for the Canada Revenue Agency told CTV News these emergency benefits were developed to ensure businesses and Canadians got the help they needed.

“Given the unprecedented financial impact of the pandemic, that money needed to be delivered extremely quickly to millions of Canadians,” the statement reads, adding those who applied in good faith will not be subject to any penalties or interest.

“However, the Government of Canada made itself clear: ineligible individuals would later have to repay amounts they had received. Canadians expect the CRA to ensure benefits are only paid to those who are entitled, and to do so in a manner which recognizes individuals and families who are experiencing significant financial hardship.”

Evelyn Jacks, a tax expert and president of The Knowledge Bureau based in Winnipeg, said if a taxpayer is told they need to repay benefits, they can appeal their case. But, if they are told they must still repay the funds, they should contact the CRA.

“They will make payment arrangements over time with you, and they will not charge you interest for the money owed,” said Jacks.

Jacks said if you owe money and do nothing, your situation could get worse.

“The CRA can go further and take legal action against you if you don’t contact them and make sure that you address the debt owed,” said Jacks.

Bailey says he can’t afford to pay back the money and fears he may have to declare bankruptcy.

“I’m on an old age pension and a Canada pension. I make $2,000 a month, and how am I supposed to pay back $38,000 and pay my groceries and my rent?” said Bailey.

The CRA may hold back any tax refunds, GST credits and other benefits until CERB funds are repaid.

Jacks says anyone who owes money to the CRA can seek help from a tax professional to see if there’s any way to reduce the amount owed.

Anyone with questions about the CRA-issued COVID-19 benefits and payment options can speak with an agent at 1-833-253-7615.

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Lynx Air to cease operations Monday, obtains creditor protection – CBC.ca

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Lynx Air, a Calgary-based airline that launched less than two years ago with a promise to make air travel more affordable for Canadians, says it will cease operations on Monday.

The news came as the low-cost airline announced it had sought and obtained an initial order for creditor protection from the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta.

“Over the past year, Lynx Air has faced a number of significant headwinds including rising operating costs, high fuel prices, exchange rates, increasing airport charges and a difficult economic and regulatory environment,” said the company in a news release.

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“Despite substantial growth in the business, ongoing operational improvements, cost reductions and efforts to explore a sale or merger, the challenges facing the company’s business have become too significant to overcome.” 

A flight booking web page shows red bars that read: Lynx Air's operations will end Feb. 26, 2024.
A screenshot of the Lynx Air website landing page on Thursday evening. (Lynx Air)

The airline said it will cease operations at 12:01 a.m. MT on Monday, “with flights continuing to operate until that time.”

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP are acting as legal advisers to Lynx Air. FTI Consulting Canada Inc. was appointed as the monitor under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act.

In an email statement to CBC News, a spokesperson with the airline said that “growing financial pressures have made it impossible” to continue operations. 

“We are focused on working with passengers currently in transit to find alternative arrangements to reach their destination,” the statement reads.

The company said passengers with existing bookings are advised to contact their credit card company to secure refunds for pre-booked travel. It also directed customers to its website.

Flight cancelled, passengers scrambling

But Lynx Air customer, Kara Brereton-Cooke, says her flight home to Winnipeg, which was scheduled for Saturday, has already been cancelled.

Brereton-Cooke said she received an email from Lynx Thursday evening following the announcement, advising that her flight from Vancouver to Winnipeg was cancelled. She and a group of seven friends have been left scrambling to find a way home.

“Seeing this email, we’re now all just frantic.”

The friends travelled to Vancouver for a bachelorette party, and were originally slated to fly home Friday. Brereton-Cooke says Lynx Air then rescheduled the original return flight to depart at 11 a.m. on Saturday, but then cancelled it entirely.

a screenshot of an email.
Kara Brereton-Cooke, a Lynx Air customer, received this email notifying her that her Saturday flight had been cancelled. Above is a screenshot of the email Brereton-Cooke received. It directs customers to request a refund through their credit card companies. (Supplied by Kara Brereton-Cooke)

The group booked an extra night of hotel accommodations for Friday night after their flight was rescheduled. Now, they’ve booked last-minute flights through Air Canada for Saturday. The trip has become more expensive than anyone expected, she told CBC News.

“We just want our compensation back from them,” Brereton-Cooke said. “We shouldn’t have to go through our credit card companies to get a refund.”

CBC News contacted Lynx Air for a comment on the Saturday flight cancellation but have not yet received a response.

WestJet — another Calgary-based airline — has since responded to the news of Lynx Air’s halt to operations.

WestJet offers discounts

“We recognize the immediate impact this information has on passengers and employees of Lynx, and we are committed to assisting where we can through a number of actions,” reads the statement posted to their website on Thursday night.

The airline is offering deals to those impacted by Lynx’s announcement, namely a 25 per cent discount for all economy fares between Feb. 22 and Oct. 26 on WestJet routes which were previously served by Lynx Air.

Lynx Air’s flight attendants had just joined the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) earlier this month.

“We’re devastated for our members at Lynx Air and all employees who lost their jobs today,” Lou Arab, communications representative for CUPE, told CBC News.

“We will represent them and defend their rights in these times and we’ll fight to ensure that employees get everything they’re legally entitled to.

“The company was clear that it’s losing investors and doesn’t have the capital to support continued operations.”

Airline industry is ‘notoriously difficult’

Deborah Yedlin, president and CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, said she suspects airport charges played a major role in Lynx’s decision.

“I think the airport fees as they’re structured makes it hard for discount airlines to be successful in Canada long term,” she said.

“There’s been a confluence of events that’s really put a lot of downward pressure on the airline business… So when you’re a discount player and your margins are even tighter, you’re going to feel the economic headwinds that much more acutely.”

a plan takes off of a runway in the city of calgary. the city skyline is visible.
Lynx Air’s inaugural flight was in April of 2022, jetting from Calgary to Vancouver. (Submitted by Taylor Michelson)

Yedlin calls the industry “notoriously difficult,” citing various post-pandemic challenges such as labour shortages and increased fuel costs.

She says Lynx Air’s announcement is unfortunate for Calgarian consumers hoping to save on travel costs.

“I think the question is, what do we need to do in Canada to ensure the viability of discount airlines?”

Ultra-affordable services promised

Privately-owned Lynx Air, which was formerly Enerjet, launched in April 2022, with a promise to bring ultra-affordable services to travellers. Lynx Air’s inaugural flight was in April, 2022, jetting from Calgary to Vancouver.

When it announced its plans in 2021, the company’s CEO at the time said the goal was to link Canadians to people and places.

“Airfares have traditionally been high here in Canada, and we at Lynx believe in meeting Canadians’ needs who can’t afford to travel or can’t afford to travel as often as they’d like,” said Merren McArthur, who stepped down last year for personal reasons.

When the company announced its launch, it said it had leased 46 new Boeing 737 aircraft. Last June, McArthur told the Calgary Herald it employed about 420 people.

Lynx began flying to several Canadian cities in 2022, including Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria, B.C.

Later that year, it announced a major expansion into the United States and followed that with the launch of a series of international flights in 2023, including Montreal to Las Vegas, and Toronto to Los Angeles, among others.

Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez addressed the news via social media on Thursday evening.

In a statement posted to X, formerly known as Twitter, Rodriguez said he is following the announcement closely. 

“For any travellers that had a return flight booked with Lynx, I expect Lynx to help you get back home as soon as possible. I expect Lynx to fully refund you if your fare won’t be honoured,” the statement reads. 

“My office has been in touch with Lynx, we will continue to communicate with all parties, and we’ve convened calls with other airlines to see how they can help, to ensure that passengers are put first.”

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Government threat report warns about attacks in Canada inspired by Hamas-Israel conflict – Global News

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The government’s terrorist threat assessment agency is warning that extremists motivated by the Israel-Hamas conflict could attack crowds at events in Canada.

In a series of strategic intelligence briefs issued in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, the analysts cautioned about mass violence spilling into this country.

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The Integrated Terrorist Assessment Centre (ITAC) predicted attacks could target protests, cultural centres, diplomatic posts “or other symbols of Israeli or Palestinian interests in Canada.”

Such an attack would likely be carried out by a “radicalized lone actor” using readily available weapons, ITAC wrote in the briefs circulated last October and released to Global News.

“It is possible that ideologically and religiously motivated violent extremists and lone actors may be triggered by events and mobilize to violence and conduct a mass casualty attack at large gatherings,” ITAC wrote in a brief on the Canadian implications of the conflict.

ITAC is a federal government team, composed of members of the security and intelligence community, that assesses threats to Canada.


Click to play video: 'Antisemitism victims speak out amid surge of cases in Canada: ‘It’s just hatred’'

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Antisemitism victims speak out amid surge of cases in Canada: ‘It’s just hatred’


In December 2023, police in Ottawa arrested a youth who has been charged with plotting a terrorist attack against the Jewish community.


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Additional charges filed on Feb. 15 accused the suspect, who cannot be named because he is a minor, of conspiracy to commit murder at the direction of a terrorist group.

He was also charged with knowingly facilitating terrorist activity “by making available and exchanging instructional material and propaganda.”

A second youth was also charged with murder conspiracy for a terrorist group, facilitating terrorist activity and trying to acquire a prohibited firearm for terrorist purposes.

The details of the alleged terror plot were not disclosed, and a publication ban was imposed on the court case, but police said the target was the Jewish community.

Multiple sources have told Global News the terrorist group in question was ISIS, which was allegedly communicating with at least one of the youths from overseas.


Federal government threat assessment reports released to Global News.


Global News

The threat reports, released under the Access to Information Act, show that since the Oct. 7 attack, intelligence officials have been conducting assessments of events that draw large crowds.

They have examined the likelihood of attacks linked to the Hamas-Israel conflict at everything from Remembrance Day ceremonies to Santa Claus parades.

An attack of that nature was “increasingly likely” in Canada, said a briefing that examined the increased “potential for community violence in Canada” resulting from events in the Middle East.

The reports noted that antisemitic hate crimes were already rising before the Hamas attack, and had jumped 182 per cent since 2015 to more than 500 in 2022.

While protests related to the conflict had been largely peaceful, ITAC said “this does not preclude opportunistic threat actors from joining events and engaging in violent behaviour.”

“As the conflict intensifies, both religiously motivated violent extremism (RMVE) and ideologically motivated violent extremism (IMVE) adherents could see symbols of the Israeli government, including embassies and consulates, or Jewish community facilities as desirable targets,” it said.

“Individuals in Canada have previously expressed support for Hamas, and RMVE adherents abroad have called for lone-actor attacks targeting Jewish people as a means to support Palestinians.”


Click to play video: 'RCMP arrest, charge teenager in relation to alleged terror plot on Ottawa Jewish community'

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RCMP arrest, charge teenager in relation to alleged terror plot on Ottawa Jewish community


The briefs listed eight “possible targets” of anti-Jewish attacks in Canada.

At the same time, ITAC said mosques, Islamic community centres, campus groups, Palestinian consulates, lobby groups and businesses associated with Palestinians could be targeted.

“Rhetoric about Palestinians could inspire a lone wolf actor to conduct an attack targeting Palestinians or symbolic locations associated with the Palestinian Authority,” it said.

“Ongoing tensions will likely increase reports of hate crimes targeting Palestinians and other Muslim communities.”

Last fall, the federal government pledged $10 million to help “at risk” groups install security equipment at community centres and places of worship.

Stewart.Bell@globalnews.ca

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